Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers | SLJ Review

redstarMYERS, Walter Dean. Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History. illus. by Floyd Cooper. 40p. bibliog. chron. HarperCollins. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780060277093.

frederick-douglassGr 2-5 –This picture book biography draws on Frederick Douglass’s autobiographies to examine his motivations and his lasting impact on U.S. history. Using erasers and oil on board, Cooper conveys Douglass’s determination, portraying him as strong and serious even as a child. The artwork depicts Douglass’s growing awareness that a life outside of slavery might be possible. The events covered are well chosen to give young readers insight into the essence of his life and accomplishments. In a child-appropriate manner, the text describes beatings, but the illustrations do not show scars. When Douglass was 16, his owner realized that the teen’s independent spirit might be problematic. The owner sent Douglass to another man, Edward Covey, whose mistreatment of slaves often caused them to back down. In a dramatic spread, Douglass is shown standing over Covey as the older man crouches on the ground, Douglass clearly the victor in their confrontation: an image that emphasizes the spirit that drove him to stand up for himself and other African Americans through the abolitionist movement. A time line provides context and further details about Douglass’s life. VERDICT Although this title is similar in scope to Doreen Rappaport’s Frederick’s Journey, the two books complement each other. Recommended for collections looking to further explore Douglass’s legacy.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2016 issue.

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